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Computer virus hits again

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A tiny mischievous computer program called a "virus" has popped up for what experts believe is the first time in retail software, according to a newspaper report published Tuesday.

The appearance of the virus raises the fear that devilish programs created by practical jokers or vandals could be used to destroy computer software sold in stores, according to a story in the San Jose Mercury News.

The virus found last week in FreeHand, a Macintosh program from Aldus Corp. in Seattle, consisted of a "message of peace" designed to appear on Macintosh screens on March 2, the anniversary of the Apple Macintosh SE and the Macintosh II, according to the report.

"The time bomb already went off," said Donn Parker, a computer security specialist at SRI in Menlo Park. Although the brief pease message was harmless, its appearance alarmed experts who until now thought viruses were hidden only on software available on bulletin boards for little or no cost, or on programs shared by swappers, the newspaper reported.

The "message of peace" virus originated at a Canadian publication called MacMag and was distributed by many bulletin boards in a program that purported to be a new listing of products made by Apple.

The virus was inadvertently passed to Aldus by Marc Canter president of MacroMind Inc., of Chicago, maker of training disks for Aldus. Aldus would not disclose how many FreeHand copies are infected but said a disk duplicating machine copied the infected disk for three days. Half the infected disks have been distributed to retail outlets and the rest are in the company's warehouse.

Canter was on a trip to Canada when he received an infected program for the Mr. Potato Head game, a computerized version of the popular toy. Unaware of the infection, Canter ran the program once and when he used the same computer to work on Aldus software, the disk headed for Aldus also became infected, he said.

The computer virus was then inadvertently copied onto disks sold to customers and infected their computers, he said.

It appears software designed by Lotus Development Corp.,Apple Computer Inc., of Cupertino; and Ashton-Tate may be infected by the virus, Canter told the Mercury News.

                                From the:
                                San Jose, Associated Press.

                                Compliments of the
                                Saginaw Valley Computer Association
                                Furnished by Nancy Burdick
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